One of Greek Mythology’s most prominent stories is that of Pandora’s box, which begins in a completely patriarchal world, (women didn’t exist yet) and where the King of the Gods, Zeus, punishes Man’s sacrifice of a bull by tricking them, in short, by creating the first woman (I don’t believe they had created sexual equality yet either). This woman was named Pandora and she married one of the men who had angered Zeus (Prometheus), so as a wedding present Zeus gave Pandora a box, with the strict instructions not to open it, (again, I don’t think the Greeks had invented Reverse Psychology either). Unsurprisingly, after a period of time had passed, Pandora opened the box, unleashing all the evil things conceivable upon the world, including: Famine, Disease, Death, Anger, Disability etc. Only one thing was left inside the box, and that, was Hope.


This may seem to be an old and recycled Myth, heard the world over, a myriad of times. So it would be feasible to argue that nothing new can be sucked from its marrow. I argue that in light of the success of the recent Paralympics, the notion that Disability is one of the evils of the world seems to be less true than ever. I acknowledge that Disability can make life difficult and of course it is not always a positive thing, but for a lot of people, the events of this summer challenged age-old perceptions of disability and gave us some truly breath-taking spectacles. As Pandora’s Box shows, negative views of disability date back to ancient times, when God’s were revered and temples were built in their honour. No myth to my mind has had a disabled protagonist; Achilles’ disability was as trivial as being mortal, there was clearly no room for disabled heroes in Ancient Greece, a time when the newly conceived Olympics were the sole reserve of the physically perfect. What with the 2012 London Paralympics being such a Herculean feat, isn’t it time to rewrite the myths that for so long have been the realm of the able-bodied?

What if the myth of the messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens, a journey of 26 miles, was changed, what if it was run by such as Oscar Pistorious. His nickname, “Blade Runner” is incredibly apt for a myth. What if “The Seven Labours of Hercules” were in fact performed by Aled Davis, the Discus thrower, or Chariot Races (Roman, I know) were contested by “The Weirwolf” David Weir and other wheelchair racers, or handcyclists such as the heroic Alex Zanardi, who celebrated his win by lifting his handcycle clear above his head. I could go on, but I believe my point should be clear by now, that there are certain events that took place in the Paralympics this summer that lend themselves wonderfully to the Myths of ancient times.

If we look again at Pandora’s Box, then we can consider Disability to be pushed some-way back inside. Furthermore, these Paralympians represent one more aspect of Pandora’s Box perfectly; Hope. The myth traditionally ends with a line similar to the following, “To this day when things are really bad the only thing we have left is hope”, of which many Paralympians are a beacon. It may sound like a cliché, but I think for once the cliché is more than apt.


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